Red Flags: Working With Photographers

A comprehensive (but by no means complete) guide to some very bad behaviors. When in doubt, go with your gut! If something feels off, it probably is. 

1. Photographer  is rude or condescending when communicating. 

If they ridicule your current portfolio, if they say something derogatory about your body hair, if they tell you you’d be hotter if you did XYZ, if they say you’d be more successful if you did ZXY, if they neg you or act like they’re doing you a favor by shooting with you, don’t work with them. A holier-than-thou attitude is a very good indicator that they’re an egotistical asshole who would be very difficult to work with. RED FLAG. 

2. Photographer bombs you with multiple texts or chats. 

A short note like “looking forward to shooting with you! or “thank you for the great shoot!” puts a smile on my face. Overly forward texts like “you’re so fucking sexy,” repeated messages (especially at odd hours), or yelling at you for not responding immediately are tell-tale signs that they have a serious problem respecting boundaries. RED FLAG

3. Photographer asks for nude photos before booking.

No one needs nudie selfies before a photo shoot- if a model does nudes it’ll be in their portfolio, and if the model doesn’t do nudes asking for them is doubly unnecessary and creepy to boot. If a photography tries to pull that shit they’re abusing their power and probably adding you to their spank bank. RED FLAG.

4. Photographer touches you to adjust your pose rather than telling you.

There’s literally no reason for a photographer to adjust you with their hands instead of their words unless all your limbs are bound or they’ve been somehow rendered incapable of speech. Part of being a good photographer is knowing how to effectively communicate what you’re looking for, so a hair out of place or a tag sticking out is no excuse. RED FLAG. 

5. Photographer treats the shoot like a party and pressures you to stay at their place or drink / do drugs.

The majority of the horror stories I’ve heard in this industry involve alcohol in some way and at this point I’m a firm believer that substances and photo shoots should never, ever mix. If you’re feeling anxious I know it can be tempting to take something that will help you relax but please, please save it for another time. It’s hard to maintain your boundaries when the hooch is lowering your inhibitions and any photographer that’s pressuring you to have some is well aware of that fact. RED FLAG. 

6. Photographer makes overly sexual comments or shares previous sexual experiences unprompted. 

When a photographer is new to nude photography they sometimes have difficulty differentiating between what’s appropriate and what isn’t (usually they don’t know what words to use for your body parts or want a hug while you’re still naked), and oftentimes a gentle but firm correction is all they need to figure it out. Regaling you with tales of their sexual exploits (especially if it’s with another model) or showing you nudes of themselves/their partners without asking is a violation of consent. This kind of oversharing is often a way of testing the waters to see if you would be down for more intimate interactions. RED FLAG. 

7. Photographer refuses to take down or not use images you’re uncomfortable with.

This is just straight up disrespect. If a photographer snuck a crotch shot when you weren’t looking, or caught you in between poses, it doesn’t matter how gorgeous/hot/beautiful they think the photo is- it’s a violation of your bodily autonomy for them to share it. RED FLAG

8. Photographer exclusively works with new models or frequently dates young models. 

This may seem like an odd red flag but it’s important to mention. On the surface, who someone chooses to date isn’t anyone else’s business. But when a photographer frequently shoots young, inexperienced models, and often starts dating them and posing with them too, it becomes a predatory pattern. Models often wind up feeling isolated from the community and when the relationship ends it’s not uncommon for them to disappear from the scene. RED FLAG. 

9. Photographer frequently changes his name online, or has multiple portfolios with different names.

Problematic photographers are like weeds- they love to pop back up. When they get called out they’ll disappear for a little while and then use a new name to try and sneak back into the industry. Oftentimes it’ll be a variation of a previous username, or a mix of their actual name (David John Allen instead of Allen David Johnson etc.). They will primarily target new models who aren’t aware of their past behavior, and if found out they shut down their account and start the cycle all over again. RED FLAG. 

10. Photographer pushes your limits or disregards them all together.

This is the big one. You should never, ever walk away from a shoot feeling compromised. (I’ve been there, it’s awful.) If a photographer mocks your boundaries or gives you an attitude about not doing nudes, if they keep pushing you to do more or show more than you agreed to beforehand, that’s a huge red flag. Also be wary if they only ask if you were comfortable after the shoot, rather than seeking consent during it. HUGE. RED. FLAG.

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